Love of the countryside is surely fairly universal, and probably not hard to explain. It's probably not increased by explaining it, but it's interesting that, while it is often enjoyed intensely in solitude, it is something we like to share. We want people to see it as we do. We want to insist that they value it. So to protect it.
This enjoyment is so often primarily visual, but all the senses are working—the silences and sounds; the feel of grass, rock, and sand; the taste of salt air; the smells of the farm. Appreciation, mediated through the sensory, goes beyond, and somehow healing and well-being of all of life seems to be possible.
Here I share a little bit of my love of the countryside and coasts; it's fragmentary, and it is a reminder to me that the second-hand view is not the experience itself. It's a while since I spent much quality time out of the city—but I need to go not as a tourist or sightseer, but as one who belongs and is at home. To live one's daily life in a small town is not something I've experienced; yet many have been familiar places to me since the early 1950s, and I think about their special qualities, their changes, their ambivalent connections with cities.
This Bridge is also a place where I might share observations on some countryside issues. For the subject of coastal development and holiday housing see the Forum VERNACULAR BUILDING.
The gentler human presence
Going back to a well-loved place many years later can be disturbing to find it changed, the magic gone, the freshness of first delight can't be recaptured. Nostalgia is hard to handle—we somehow feel guilty about having such backward yearnings and sense of loss. There's an ache. It must be possible to positively connect all that experience into a continuum of meaning and life.
For me to show here things that I thought important to record is also an exercise in checking out their value and the soundness of judgement that here is intrinsic loveliness of nature, and goodness and virtue in man-made things. The human works all show a lightness of touch, a simplicity, a humility.
I got my first 35mm SLR camera in 1966. The early colour slides are quite telling in that my regard for these subjects has not diminished. I haven't outgrown these things. There is nothing here to despise for being of an earlier era. Here are qualities to still appreciate and learn from.
First 35mm Photos
Early 35mm Photos
|ROAD TO BEACH, WAIPAPAKAURI, 1966||ORUA BAY, MANUKAU HARBOUR, 1970||GRANDSTAND, NEAR TE KUITI, 1972||LYNFIELD FARMLET, MT ROSKILL, 1970|
|BOAT HIRE, KAIKORAI, DUNEDIN, 1969||TIMBER TRUSS BRIDGE, W. OF TE KUITI, 1968||ACROSS THE TRUSS BRIDGE, 1968|
Our anthropocentric world view, and our faceless anthropocentric architecture, have brought the human race close to extinction. The very idea of Resource Management needs to be questioned. The only planet we have is not just a resource for us to exploit. Managing the exploitation of our planet has been a failure. We need to replace outmoded ideas of guardianship or stewardship with kaitiakitanga. It is astonishingly arrogant to make ourselves gods, with our architecture giving form to notions of power and control. The natural world was doing fine, and was exquisitely beautiful, until we came along. We need to embrace, rather than shelter ourselves from, the beauty all around us.
The obvious first move to bring our planet back from the brink of collapse, and the human race back from self-inflicted euthanasia, is to change our way of seeing architecture. Fortunately there is no cost involved, and the change to an earth-centred world view might just take place quickly enough to sustain the life of the planet. Why should our architecture not bring us peace, and enrich our lives, in the same way that the natural environment does? Love, delight and awe could replace sacrifice, hardship, predatory economics, and greenstar ratings.
Kaitiakitanga focuses not only on harmony between the natural and built environments, but also on harmony between the past, the present, and the future. In healing all relationships we enrich our lives.
Tony Watkins, M.Arch, Dip TP (Hons), FNZIA, RIBA, is an architect, author, owner-builder, servant of Piglet, and opponent of TPPA. For twenty years he lectured in Vernacular Architecture at the University of Auckland. His books include Thinking it Through, The Human House, and Piglet the Great of Karaka Bay.
Rest seems an elusive treasure, despite considerable creativity and resources invested in procuring it.
In his poem 'The Pulley', English Renaissance poet George Herbert describes God pouring out blessings on the newly-formed human creature. All the world's riches are poured out, but one is held back:
Perceiving that, alone of all his treasure,
Rest in the bottom lay."
There was a reason for withholding this final blessing--that at least,
May toss him to my breast."
This will explore how ordinary human existence is enriched--or impoverished--by life at home. I will explore material aspects and aesthetics in the light of consumer pressures, and reflect on life in a changing city with personal and theological observations. How do we come home to ourselves--and to God?
Carolyn Kelly, BD (Otago), PhD (Aberdeen) has been lecturer in Theology, Auckland University. Carolyn has long had an interest in the intersections of the arts and imagination, Christian spirituality and the natural world. She is Maclaurin Chapel Chaplain at the University of Auckland, and is ordained in the Presbyterian Church. She is an inner city urban dweller.